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Sep 12, 2017

Coordinator Zenaida Moya Sticks to Guns

In the aftermath of Sunday morning’s national embarrassment, and indeed even before, social media has been blowing up with recriminations between members of the judging panel and other observers.  Persistent reports to News Five indicate that there is bad blood between several district committees overseeing regional pageants and national coordinator Zenaida Moya.  In Cayo for instance, the runner up challenged the results and was allowed to represent along with the winner of the pageant in the west.  But Moya and her public relations officer, Dejanira Thompson, maintained that all was done by the book, other than on pageant night, and that in their minds, the true queen was crowned on Sunday – Orange Walk’s Esmeralda Cal, not Stann Creek’s Aliyah Ysaguirre. News Five’s Aaron Humes has more in this report.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

In the aftermath of national embarrassment on Sunday, coordinator of the Queen of the Bay national committee Zenaida Moya insisted that history would absolve her choice to go ahead with naming the “official” winner of the pageant rather than what seemed to be the popular choice.


Zenaida Moya

Zenaida Moya, National Coordinator, Queen of the Bay Committee

“We had made a decision that night based on the results – the report that we received from the independent chartered accountant, the auditor in the case, we made a decision based on it. The National Committee felt that we had to – we had to – be on the side of history, making the right choice. We had to ensure that the true winner was in fact declared and placed in the annals of history; we had to do that. There was nothing that ought to have stopped that, because we knew who the actual winner was and we had to do what was right.  It was not a good situation; we’re not happy about it – let me just tell everyone, we’re not happy about it. We wish it did not happen; from the onset we wish that none of this had happened.”


“This” is the protest filed on Thursday evening, less than seventy-two hours before coronation, by the Orange Walk Queen of the Bay Committee, alleging improper scoring against their candidate and in favour of the Stann Creek candidate. The Committee met late that night and on Friday called in the seven pageant judges and the auditor to review the scoring and assess uncalled point infractions.


Dejanira Thompson, Secretary/Public Relations Officer, Queen of the Bay Committee

“When we had the meeting with the judges we read them the letter – I want to clarify that we never met with the Orange Walk committee; people are wondering why we had a meeting with Orange Walk and not with Stann Creek [but] we never held a meeting with Orange Walk; we called the Orange Walk coordinator in front of the judges during the meeting and put her on speaker, they want clarification as to what exactly she wanted. We then proceeded to give them back their score sheets and we pointed out the penalty rules. And we provided them with the clipping and the legal person gave her advice as to what they should do and then the auditor took over for us, because we had nothing to do with it – we didn’t tamper with it; we did not change the scores.”


Zenaida Moya

“Miss Orange Walk got an additional twenty points; well, she did not get an additional twenty points – nineteen points were deducted from Stann Creek and a point that was erroneously taken off from her, in the introduction there was a judge that erroneously took a point off from Orange Walk saying she went over two minutes; but you go back and review the tape and her stuff was only one minute thirty-four-point-four-four seconds or one minute and thirty-five seconds; so that point was given back to her.”


Needless to say, breaking the news to the Queen-designate that Friday night – she was out in Chetumal shopping for her coronation dress – did not go well. But what went even worse was the sudden meeting called by the National Celebrations Commission to debunk a report that the coronation would be moved to Orange Walk instead of its traditional Memorial Park home. Then the scoring came up and things, Thompson said, got a little hairy with Commission co-chair Patrick Faber.


Dejanira Thompson

Dejanira Thompson

“He demanded the scores and we kept saying – before that, he asked who were the judges, repeatedly; he was starting to raise his voice, he was slurring his words and he became very disrespectful and very dismissive, and when we got up and said we were going to get the score sheets, he refused to let us go. I wasn’t comfortable with the situation personally; I looked at Miss Zenaida and I told her I wanted to leave. And when he got up – I think he went to the restroom or I’m not sure what happened and that when we got up. Because we saw…”



“You saw where this was going, pretty much?”


Dejanira Thompson

“Yes, exactly, and we wanted to avoid that.”


But that resulted in Faber’s Facebook announcement that the original result for Ysaguirre stood, and it snowballed from there into Sunday, where the shock and horror of the audience was plain for all to see, though the young women on stage were the model of decorum. Moya says that all she can put in place to avoid a repeat in future will be done.


Zenaida Moya

“Things happen in life and so you have to ensure that you deal with it immediately, you deal with it as best as you can, and that’s what we are doing. And we are informing the public that every single measure that we can possibly put in place – that means ensuring that we get a pool of judges that are screened way in advance; that receive the adequate training, procedures, whatever they must do, way in advance; they’re competent, they are persons of integrity – those are the persons that will be looked for. In terms of having an independent chartered accountant right then and there at the pageant – that will be a must; there’s no ifs or buts about it, that cost has to be borne, that has to be a part of the expense of the pageant. Everything, everything – if it means that you speak directly at all times with the delegates, from the onset that has to be done.”


Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Coordinator Zenaida Moya Sticks to Guns”

  1. Mark Hall says:

    The Pageant is a relic of Colonialism and should be mothball as it has no substantial value to the candidates and adds no historical value to Belize.

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